Comic Creator Interview
with David Paul
Name: David Paul
City: Louisville, KY
Comics: Ugli Studios Presents vol 1, JOSEPH!
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
David – I think I was ten & my first comics were in the pages of Heavy Metal. I even stole an issue! Always loved HM, always will.
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
David – I was too young to buy Heavy Metal back then so I think the first comics I bought were The Incredible Hulk & Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man. I was a big fan of The Incredible Hulk TV show.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
David – 22. I tried to start my own independent comics company in the early 90s called “Rahma Comix”. Wasn’t very successful & back then I was actually illustrating my own work. The book was “Dragon Claw”, a post-modern superhero named Diego Garcia in New Dallas. I had little success on my own, but the title series did have a short run in a local trade paper called “River Troll”.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
David – Well, I love the classics of course, but to answer the question maybe the 90s. The independents were really breaking out then. Great stuff from the leaders of that movement, both Image & Dark Horse.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
David – I actually am a published author & an award-winning poet. There are a few titles to my credit & my new book “From the Blood of Poetry” just went on sale. As for drawing, as I said above when I first started out in comics, I tried illustrating my own work. While it was “good”, after some time I felt it just wasn’t good enough. I realized I was a much stronger writer when a number of my short stories & poetry started being published. So I stuck with that. I haven’t drawn in decades!
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
David – Some writers & artists have been able to make their start in the indies & then break into the mainstream. For me, I’d much rather stay where I am. I don’t like rules & unspoken laws. There are just way too many of those in the mainstream, so unless I’m given complete freedom to do whatever the hell I want I’ll stick with what I’m doing.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
David – Well Jason Lenox (the lead artist on Ugli Studios Presents vol 1) has a special arrangement with the printers, so he prints them out as needed.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
David – Ideally I’d like to price comics at no more than $5. But if you have a TPB or graphic novel then the price should be set accordingly.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
David – Let me say this: producing comics at the quality that Ugli Studios is publishing is hard work. There is a lot of blood, sweat, & tears that go into each page of what we do. Our first comic book (Ugli Studios Presents vol 1) took us about 9 months to produce, I believe. So right now it looks as if we’ll only be producing one title a year. As we grow & become more successful we should be able to produce more. Hell, I’d like to be able to put out twelve titles a year. But we absolutely will not substitute quality for quantity.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
David – Personally I like to read one story arc in a single sitting. So I enjoy reading TPBs & graphic novels. But I also enjoy reading one-shot stories in a single regular monthly title. It’s hard to keep up with stories as they stretch out from month to month (for me), so I wait for the TPBs.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
David – I write both, so there is a big difference. My web series “JOSEPH!” started as a daily/weekly strip. The key with strip writing is making a point within three panels. If you’re telling a joke you’re doing it within those three panels & you need to differentiate joke-telling from story arcs, which continue from one strip to the next to reach its conclusion. Both are equally important. Script writing for complete comic books is different in that you tell a complete story (beginning, middle, end) within 32 pages, or however long your editor’s page count allows for. “JOSEPH!” is now being written as a graphic novel so I suppose I do prefer to write full comics as opposed to single strips, but if I ever became a daily cartoonist I’d be happy with that.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
David – As I mentioned above, our first comic book took us about 9 months from concept to printing. Our next may take longer than that, but we’re not in any hurry.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
David – Write!
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
David – Well, I am also our studios letterer so I am the last one to get the pages. The pages are only ready for print when I’m done with the lettering. Although my balloons & pointers, etc. are hand-drawn I work 98% digitally. The lettering is done in the computer, but I take measures to make it look hand-drawn to match my balloons. It’s taken me quite a bit to obtain my own lettering style that I am happy with.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
David – I think the technology to accommodate comics on multi-platform screens is in flux now. You just can’t get a good “feel” of comics on a digital screen. Not as it is now. I do think someday in the future something will happen in which we all look at digital comics & say, “Oh wow. That’s cool.” But again, as it is now, I’m not impressed. So make mine print!
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
David – Color is more expensive but always preferable.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
David – That’s a tough question to answer. So many variables to consider. If one person can produce their own comic book then one is all it takes.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
David – That old axiom “it’s all about who you know” is still true today. A lot of my previous work came from client references, but I have since stopped taking on clients & nearly everything I do now is completely in-house with Ugli Studios. I say “nearly” because I am currently working on a long form novel of fiction not associated with Ugli that will probably take me a very long time to complete.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
David – I only work with two artists now & I work very loosely with both. I do not give detailed descriptions for many of the panels & pages & many times the script may lack clear direction. The reason for this is trust. I trust the artist illustrating the work to do what they do best. Now sometimes I may make a suggestion as to what may be done where, or what something or someone may look like, but it’s really the artist’s choice because visually it’s their work. This method of scripting would drive an editor nuts! Yeah. I know the artists I work with, they know me & what we do works best for us. I do not recommend it to anyone.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
David – Well there are a number of professionals I have been influenced by over the years (not all comic book people) & I think those people have been so original they may not enjoy it if others are compared to them. I enjoy standing on my own & think all artists, writers, & creators of all sorts should do their own thing & not be concerned over whom they are compared to.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
David – They don’t read my work.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
David – I hate superheroes that aren’t in the established mainstream & those in the mainstream need a serious change. The movies are starting to do things right. Marvel at least. The only thing DC seems to be getting right in the movies is Batman. I mean, how can you have trouble with Superman? I have no faith at all in this new Superman movie. How can you give Superman a dark tone like Batman? Really? But we’ll see how it turns out. May be the best thing to happen. Who knows! But, yeah, in general I very much dislike superheroes.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
David – Heavy Metal.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
David – I’m a writer. I’d have too much trouble working with any of them.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
David – Ugli Studios is creator owned & creator published. So yes.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
David – I don’t. I really can’t. But Jason does & is taking Ugli Studios Presents vol 1 to NYCC this year. He’ll be attending some other lesser known events.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
David – I take them directly to people in person. We sell our books online of course, but the best way to sell is to show people your product in person. I can’t do conventions, so I just talk to people face to face, show them our comic book & let the product sell itself. It’s been remarkable the reaction I’ve been getting from people when they see the comic book, hold it in their hands & flip through the pages. It really is very high quality.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
David – Again, I prefer taking the product directly to people, but yes it fits in nicely in shops next to other comic books.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
David – I would love to see “JOSEPH!” become an animated television series. As for the other Ugli properties I’m game for anything if Jason is.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
David – I do not collect. I read & pass it on. I am actually an anti-collector. I’m trying to get rid of everything before I die.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
David – Comics will always be suited best for print.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
David – Their own damn thing. I dislike it so much that so many creators are trying to emulate the mainstream.
QRD – Anything else?
David – Ugli Studios Presents vol 1 is available at thisisugli.com. & be excellent to each other!